The YPA is calling the site the National Yellow Pages Consumer Choice & Opt-Out Site, because it allows you to opt out of all books or choose to receive selected books. I clicked through through the opt-out process, and was first surprised to see that I am eligible to receive 9 different phone books for my area in Chicago, produced by a range of publishers. Some of the major publishers, like RH Donnelly, Dex, Yellowpages, Verizon SuperPages, and AT&T Yellow Pages have already rolled out some opt-out and on-demand-only services in select areas, but you practically had to be a private detective to find how to place your request. With the YPA site, all of your area phonebook publishers are listed in one spot, making the process easier.
To be clear, the YPA is not a book publisher — it is the largest trade organization of a print and digital media industry. Members are mostly Yellow Page directory publishers in the US and Canada, but the organization also extends memberships to sales, marketing, advertisers, and suppliers to the directory industry.
Lead photo by carlos.a.martinez
The site also lists a sustainability report, which reads more like a marketing brochure to help mend the tarnished image of wasteful phone books. On one hand it clearly states that LifeCycle Analysis data identified three major issues in book production: water consumption during paper production, energy consumption during printing, and landfill leachate at end of life. The report goes on to point out some of the “greener” attributes of the books, such as the use of soy-based inks, efforts for recycling programs, and the potentials for upcycling. The highlighted statements make it appear that the books are not very harmful, and put a green veil over the issues, since they do not have a strong tie back to the top three impact issue identified in the LCA report.
When previously researching the issues with paper phone books, I learned that managing the system is much more complicated than it would appear. For example, many companies hire contract companies to complete the delivery services, so the information for who has opted out may not get passed on. Also, if you live in a building with multiple units, you have probably seen large piles of books outside. Or you may see books outside a vacant building. This could be caused by a lack of resources on the delivery company’s end – if they don’t know detailed information about each residence the books may be distributed in the same way that takeout menus paper the block.
Another issue is recycling the books. Many municipalities still will not accept phone books along with other recycled paper products, or require special drop off locations.
Opting out is the best solution to reduce the impact of phone books. Go here to OPT OUT NOW.
The YPA opt-out warns that the request to discontinue delivery may take 12 weeks to take effect. I’m not holding my breath to see when the books stop coming, but if they do, I will be back to blog praises that the new system actually worked.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Stopping the delivery of antiquated phone books at the source is the best way to stem their environmental repercussions, which include the needless waste of paper, the energy it takes to produce them, and the CO2 emissions produced by delivering them.